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Watch Out For That Monitor!

You've heard about all the health problems that can be caused by spending too many hours glued to your computer. Your back may ache from sitting in the wrong position. Your eyes can get bleary from staring at the screen all day. And you can get tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome from clicking your mouse or tapping your keyboard too many times. Well, some new research shows that computers can also pose other, more traditional hazards, and more people are suffering those kinds of injuries.

Researchers at Ohio State University analyzed data collected from about 100 emergency rooms around the country by the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 1994 and 2006. In a paper being published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the researchers reported that there was a more than seven-fold increase in computer-related injuries due to physical incidents involving computers, such as someone tripping over a computer cable, a monitor falling on someone's head or someone straining their back lifting a component.

During that period, 78,703 people needed treatment for acute injuries related to computers. While most of the patients were treated at the hospital and released, a small proportion --mostly involving people over the age of 60 --did have to be admitted for care.

The computer part most often associated with an injury was the monitor. The percentage of injuries related to monitors increased from 11.6 percent in 1994 to 37.1 percent in 2003, but fell to 25.1 percent by 2006 as heavier cathode ray tube monitors began to be replaced by lighter LCD versions.

Children under the age of 5 were the most likely to trip or fall on computer equipment, accounting for 43.4 percent of all such accidents, which often occurred while playing near or climbing on computer equipment. Cuts to the arms, legs or head were the most common injuries, followed by scrapes and bruises.

While having a computer in the house has many benefits for a child's mind, the researchers say the findings suggest that more could be done to make computers and computer furniture safer for their bodies.

By Rob Stein  |  June 11, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , General Health , Prevention  | Tags: computer injuries  
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"the findings suggest that more could be done to make computers and computer furniture safer for their bodies."

They're kidding, right? If you trip over the cord to the computer, how is that different from tripping over the cord to a lamp or the XBox? If you pull your back lifting the monitor or CPU, how is that any different from pulling your back lifting a TV or box of toys? If my kid bonks his head on the CPU, how is that any different than when he bonks his head on the coffee table?

I appreciate the strides the computer manufacturers have made in addressing the special problems that computers posed (glare-free screens, ergonomic keyboards and trays, etc.). But there is a limit to how much we should expect them to protect us from ourselves.

Posted by: laura33 | June 11, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

It's "tendinitis" not tendonitis. Just ask Rocket.

Posted by: BoteMan | June 11, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Lawdy how sedentary we've become when so many folks can't lift a monitor without injury. And what a bunch of whiners running to the ER every time they get a paper cut.

I agree with Laura about blaming this on computers.

Posted by: nourider | June 11, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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